National Parks Around Wisconsin


Photo courtesy of Travel Wisconsin

“I grow very fond of this place, and it certainly has a desolate, grim beauty of its own, that has a curious fascination for me.” – Ted Roosevelt


Rocky cliffs, salty oceans, and bustling forests. Nature is a gift. America has always been a place of exploration, and there have always been men who wish to preserve the wonder that this country holds. National Parks are the key to that as we preserve what is so glorious in this great nation of ours. Wisconsin is no different – national parks dot our state and withhold the beauty of untouched natural wealth.


Notable areas here in Wisconsin are Chequamegon-Nicolet Forest, which was made into a national park in 1933 by President Hoover; Apostle Islands, which was made into a national park in 1970; and Saint Croix, which was made into a national park in 1968. National Parks include the Grand Canyon, Yellowstone (which also happens to be the first national park), and Zion. 


The first draft of an idea to create National Parks goes back to 1832 when the artist George Catlin headed up to the Great Plains of the United States. He was concerned with Native American culture, lives, and wilderness. During his time in the Midwest he wrote, “[B]y some great protecting policy of government… in a magnificent park… a nation’s park, containing man and beast, in all the wild[ness] and freshness of their nature’s beauty!” Though no action was taken right away, people did start to paint and notice nature more in the eastern half of the United States. Others, such as Henry Thoreau, also began shining a new light on nature in America. As the years passed, the first national park of Yellowstone was created in 1875 by President Ulysses S. Grant. Ever since, U.S. presidents have contributed to the National Parks Service, notably President Theodore Roosevelt and his beginnings on the Panama Canal. The Panama Canal later was used during World War II, and even today as one of the most traveled canals.


Our nation thrives upon our national parks. In 2016, about 183,797 people visited the Apostle Islands, according to the official National Parks website, and made a cumulative benefit of $35.7 million. In 2018, Zion National Park was visited by over 4 million tourists, according to Headwater Economics. The National Parks visitor spending has contributed $40 billion to the U.S economy according to the site. The National Parks Service has also contributed to supporting 329,000 jobs, with 268,000 of those jobs in the park gateway communities. 


National Parks help our economy, preserve our past and allow for connections across the world. From Maine to California, National Parks are everywhere and the United States continues to benefit from their great beauty.